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Top suspect in Haiti assassination probe in U.S. custody in Miami BY JACQUELINE CHARLES, MICHAEL WILNER, AND JAY WEAVER UPDATED JANUARY 04, 2022 1:34 PM

mardi 4 janvier 2022 par Charles Sterlin

A key suspect in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse is in U.S. custody in Miami after being arrested Tuesday morning by federal agents upon arrival from Panama, multiple U.S. government sources familiar with the matter told McClatchy and the Miami Herald. Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, known as “Floro,” is scheduled to have his first appearance in federal court Tuesday afternoon. He will be the first person allegedly involved in the assassination of the Haitian president to be formally charged with a crime. Palacios had been in custody in Jamaica, which moved to deport him to his homeland of Colombia Monday. He didn’t make it, apparently finding himself diverted to the United States during a stopover in Panama.

The investigation is a joint effort by the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations. Sources familiar with the investigation said he faces charges of conspiracy to provide material support resulting in the death of a foreign leader and conspiracy to kidnap and kill a foreign leader. According to a Haiti National Police investigation report obtained by the Herald, a hit squad of ex-Colombian military soldiers, accompanied by two Haitian Americans and Haitian police officers, swarmed the Haitian presidential compound above the hills in Port-au-Prince with military precision. Claiming to be part of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration operation, each team leader carried a Samsung Galaxy smartphone — to photograph the president’s corpse and assure the masterminds of his death, according to police.

Palacios, police investigators said, was one of the Colombians who allegedly entered the president’s room, where he was tortured and shot multiple times, and his wife, Martine, was seriously injured. Haiti initially arrested 44 suspects in the slaying. One has since died of COVID-related illnesses, and four others were recently released by the investigative judge conducting the probe in advance of bringing charges. None of those individuals have been charged, however. Haiti police investigators have arrested and interrogated 18 Colombians, as well as two Haitian Americans, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, who claimed they were working as translators. Investigators also questioned and imprisoned Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian-American pastor and doctor considered by police to be one of the planners. They have linked Sanon to the owner of a Miami-area security firm, Counter Terrorism Unit, or CTU, and one of his associates. CTU is suspected of recruiting the Colombians and obtaining two loans from a Weston financier that Haitian police say provided money for the assassination. U.S. lawyers for the business owners whose homes and businesses have been the subject of search warrants have said that while they were involved in a plan to replace Moïse with an interim leader in a peaceful transition of power, they have no knowledge of a plot to kill or violently overthrow him. Solages, Vincent and Sanon have also professed their innocence. After turning themselves in, Sanon and Vincent, a former DEA informant, told Haitian authorities they were working as translators and that their mission was not to kill Moïse but to arrest him and install Sanon as interim president. U.S. authorities are conducting their own investigation, looking at the involvement of the two companies, their owners and the three jailed Haitian Americans who lived in South Florida before traveling to Port-au-Prince early last year ahead of the slaying. The question is to what extent does Palacios’ arrest connect to the ongoing U.S. probe and whether it might help Homeland Security and FBI agents build a strong case. $2 for 2 months Subscribe for unlimited access to our website, app, eEdition and more CLAIM OFFER How Palacios was transferred from Panama to Miami remains unclear, though the way in which he arrived in the United States is typical of law enforcement agencies seeking to avoid the lengthy process of extradition with cooperation of a foreign government while a suspect is in transit. Haiti’s government had filed an INTERPOL Red Notice on Oct. 21, 2021 after Palacios’ Jamaica arrest. Palacios had been held in Jamaica on an immigration violation after surrendering there in October. He was among several suspects on the run after Moïse’s murder. One of the suspects, Haitian-Palestinian businessman Samir Handal, was detained in Turkey after arriving in Istanbul from Miami while in transit to Jordan. His family in Miami says he is innocent and authorities knew his whereabouts all along. He is currently the subject of a Haitian government extradition request. This story was originally published January 4, 2022 9:02 AM. JACQUELINE CHARLES 305-376-2616 Jacqueline Charles has reported on Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for over a decade. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she was awarded a 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize — the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas. MICHAEL WILNER 202-383-6083 Michael Wilner is McClatchy’s Senior National Security and White House Correspondent. A member of the White House team since 2019, he led coverage of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Wilner previously served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post. He holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City. Doctor Tells : Do You Have Too Much Belly Fat ? (Eat This Before Bed) Top US Doctor : Sugar Is Not The Problem (This Is) GundryMD Sponsored

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